The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.
Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.67. What is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is: You shall not murder.
Q.68. What does the sixth commandment require?
A. The sixth commandment requires making every lawful effort to preserve one's own life and the lives of others.
1. What is the meaning of the word "kill" in this question?
The meaning of the word "kill" is to commit murder. The correct rendering of the Hebrew here is "Thou shalt do no murder." This would mean the unjust taking of life.
2. What does the sixth commandment require in reference to our own lives?
It requires that we use all lawful endeavours to preserve it.
3. What are these lawful endeavours?
The Larger Catechism teaches: that this commandment requires "the just defense thereof against violence; - a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreation." (Q.135)
4. What does the sixth commandment require in reference to others?
The Larger Catechism teaches: "By resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any." (Q.135)
5. What does the commandment mean by "lawful endeavours" toward ourselves and others?
By "lawful endeavours" it means a "sober" use of them as the Larger Catechism states it. We need such things as food, drink, recreation, labour - these are all an important part of human life. We need to be equally careful in our action towards others. In all areas we need to be certain our actions are consistent with the Word of God. Love, as presented in the Word, should be our basis of action.
6. Does this commandment speak only of the body?
No, this commandment is also speaking of the soul. There should be, on our part, a careful avoiding of sin and an equally careful and diligent use of the means of grace.